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Terrible reception in lower suite, exploring extended range LTE replacement phone

  • 10 October 2020
  • 5 replies
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I’ve living in a below grade suite with a large sunken patio on the west end and excellent window frontage in that direction.

Even so:

  • I barely get two bars anywhere in the suite on the best day
  • my connections run hot due to my phone using maximum transmit power at all times
  • when it rains, connections drop randomly, even with my phone right up against the best window
  • I can’t use my phone at all from my office, which is on the north-west corner with windows on both sides
  • I get zero bars from 2/3 of my suite; every location even vaguely on the east side

This has been the state of affairs for several years now. I don’t use my phone heavily so I just put up with this for a long time.

The problem with my western frontage is that it faces out over Patricia Bay, a fair sized body of water with no cell towers.

A cell tower map shows the follow Telus towers:

  • a weak tower due north on a couple of 2 GHz bands with directional coverage
  • an omni tower to the south-east at Victoria International Airport (YYJ)
  • a flagship tower situated just a shade north of due east with every band and antenna aspect under the sun

Distance:

  • the weak tower is fairly close
  • both of the other towers are around 2 km distance

Estimated signal strength:

  • the weak tower only has directional antennas, most likely facing into a housing cluster to the east or south-east (wrong direction)
  • I doubt I’m getting any signal at all from the YYJ omni at 2 km distance
  • the powerful flagship tower has to push its signal through the entire house above me from 2 km distance

To make matters worse, this house was custom built by a professional building inspector who specified the best sound-proofing known to civilization between the lower and upper suites. Turns out, this sound-proofing contains all kinds of metal. He was clearly thinking about privacy, not signal strength when he chose this construction material.

Thus I assume the only signal I’m going to get involves either radio fringing effects, or punching the signal straight through the wall from an oblique angle.

Wall-punching power goes up tremendously at lower frequencies. (See “propagation constant” on Wikipedia if you’re into math or RF engineering.)

Probably my only solution short of buying a signal extender is to replace my aging phone with a new phone capable of extended range LTE on 700 MHz (band 13).

When Telus/Koodo activated some of these fancy new LTE services a while back, initially even if your phone supported these bands, you didn’t get the service unless your phone was on a special list indexed by your phone’s IMEI. The list of phones with supported IMEI numbers only including phones purchased through Telus/Koodo on two-year contracts, with expensive data plans that I simply don’t need.

Yesterday I wandered into my local Costco’s electronics section, and I discovered they are now selling an unlocked Moto G Power (I recall the price as $280 in-store, but found it later at $300 online). This phone is model XT2041-4.

If I purchase this phone, will I actually get extended range LTE on my existing Koodo account, using my existing Koodo SIM card?

If I don’t get a more powerful signal, all I wind up with is a polished turd of a new phone, just as useless as the ancient one I now possess.

I don’t wish to invest close to $300 for a bottle of turd polish.

How do I best confirm with Koodo that this potential new phone purchase is not a bottle of turd polish, and that I will actually gain access to extended range LTE in practice?

 

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Best answer by Dinh 10 October 2020, 19:57

Indoor signal is always challenging. What phone are you using as of now? If you are a postpaid customer and your phone was compatible with WiFi calling, I would suggest you enable it or get a compatible phone with it https://www.koodomobile.com/en/help/wifi-calling It reroutes your call/text via your local wifi  network and avoid the bad indoor signal problem.

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5 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

I can flag a Rep to see if whatever phone can be added but sounds like you need to speak dire xrly with a Rep about this regardless. I also wouldn't call a phone à turd because it doesn't meet your fringe scenario needs but I get the sentiment.

I'd honestly get a signal booster so you can get whatever phone you want instead.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Indoor signal is always challenging. What phone are you using as of now? If you are a postpaid customer and your phone was compatible with WiFi calling, I would suggest you enable it or get a compatible phone with it https://www.koodomobile.com/en/help/wifi-calling It reroutes your call/text via your local wifi  network and avoid the bad indoor signal problem.

Userlevel 7

The best way to test a cell phone sensitivity, after you narrowed the candidates down to a manageable number, is to test the candidate phone at your suite. This is a challenge because of COVID-19 but also because, to have an apples-to-apples test, these phones have to be Telus / koodo customers. One more point, you may be able to find (mainly older) phones that perform well at your suite using 3G but not 4G LTE.  I agree with  @Goran that you should consider use of (not cheap) signal boosters to improve the signal strength. Good hunting!

Userlevel 2

Hi there! Thanks for reaching out to us. Please send us a private message from your Social Media account (Facebook or Twitter)  and we will be happy to look into it :)

Badge +4

The Moto G Power (XT2041-4) is the Canadian variant and supports band 13 (700 MHz) connectivity.

Networks + Bands

  • 4G: LTE band 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/14/17/18/19/20/25/26/29/30/38/39/40/41/66/71
  • 3G: UMTS band 1/2/4/5/8
  • 2G: GSM band 2/3/5/8 - (not used by TELUS/Koodo)

Moto G Power Canada - (see specifications at the bottom of the page)

While the Moto G Power does support Wi-Fi calling in some regions outside of Canada, this device does not appear on the list of compatible Wi-Fi calling devices with TELUS or Koodo. A recent post from another forum, dated 2020-08-10 confirms this: 

I'm in Quebec Canada and I do not have access to the wifi calling on my Moto G Power phone. Going through the phone options and the call it's not there so no wifi options. I call my provider ''TELUS'' and they told me that my phone was not able to do it. It was not on their list that I have to buy a new phone if I want the wi-fi calls”.

Does the Moto G Power support WiFI Calling?

TELUS Wi-Fi Calling for Apple and Android devices - see list of compatible devices

Koodo Wi-Fi Calling

A cellular range extender/booster or a phone that is capable of Wi-Fi calling are your options.

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